Nairobi — An award-winning British film about witch-hunts in Zambia trying to fight against curbing violence against women. Provided it is translated into local languages and distributed widely, according to human rights campaigners.
« Bringing these stories to light can help survivors, civil society and communities to hold their government and duty bearers to account. » said Shelby Quast, director of the charity Equality Now.
In many cases, victims are elderly widowed women who are humiliated, beaten, stripped and ostracised from their communities. Sometimes they are lynched. Children are also targeted with their parents and communities misled into battering, maiming, drowning, burning and abandoning them.
« In the African context, witch branding usually leads to alienation of women from the community and this denies her rights to own land or even inherit it and reduces her ability to fend for herself, » said ActionAid Kenya’s Philip Kilonzo. « It is increasingly becoming a practice in some communities to lynch witches which leads to further violation of their rights by denying them the right to life. »
Activists said it was key that films addressing these issues were seen where it mattered most.
« The use of films can be limiting in challenging such forms of violence against women as films speak to the privileged in the society, yet issues such as witch branding happen in the very remote rural areas and informal settlements in urban areas, » said Makena Mwobobia, ActionAid Kenya’s Head of Policy. « However, if translated into the local languages, the same films can be used to speak to the emotions and the core of the community and hence touch on their individual character for a behavioral change. »